Herb Pasta Topped with Grilled Sardines; Whet Your Appetite with This Dish

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Herb pasta with grilled sardines

Cooking expert Shimpei Kurihara introduced his herb pasta with grilled sardines. The dish, which uses in season sardines, is certain to stimulate your appetite.

When selecting sardines, Kurihara recommends looking for ones with brightly colored eyes, glossy skin and a round belly.

In traditional Japanese cuisine, sardines are often served grilled or simmered in ume plum sauce, but in this dish, they are served with pasta. “Sardines are caught all over the world and are often eaten in Europe and the United States,” Kurihara said. “They have a strong umami flavor and go well with pasta.”

Sardines are often mashed into small pieces and mixed into the pasta, but this dish uses filleted sardines that are grilled and placed on top. The fresh basil in the pasta enhances the flavor of the sardines.

Before grilling the sardines, sprinkle salt and pepper over them and coat them with olive oil. “The surface [of the sardines] coated with oil becomes hot and is grilled crispy,” Kurihara said.

Make the sauce as the pasta cooks. Add red pepper, salt, and pasta water to olive oil in a frying pan and stir thoroughly over the heat so that the water and oil mix.

“The key is to let the sauce emulsify and then toss the pasta to absorb it,” Kurihara said. “The salt and moisture will be absorbed by the pasta, while the unabsorbed oil will stick to the surface of the pasta. This makes the pasta delicious.”

The sardines are browned and fragrant. When I put a fork into a sardine, it crumbled. The flavor of sardines, the aroma of basil and the garlic-flavored pasta were a perfect match. I devoured it in no time at all.

Herb pasta with sardines

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 160 grams pasta (Fedelini or other thin pasta)
  • 2 sardines (filleted)
  • 15 grams basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • a pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano as needed

  • Directions:

    1. Season the sardines with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the sardines and grill them on a fish broiler. Remove when cooked through.

    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    Sardines are seasoned with salt and pepper and coated in olive oil.

    2. Slice the basil coarsely and the garlic thinly.

    3. In a frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic, and cook over low-medium heat. When crispy and golden brown, remove the garlic.

    4. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta for 1 minute shorter than the indicated time. Keep the pasta water.

    5. Add red pepper, 2/3 teaspoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of pasta water to the olive oil left in the pan from step 3. Cook over medium heat, stirring thoroughly to emulsify the mixture.

    6. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce from step 5 and stir together. Add the basil and garlic and mix quickly.

    7. Place the pasta on a plate and top with the sardines. Sprinkle grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

    Buttery baby corn

    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    Sauteed baby corns with herb and butter
  • Kurihara also taught us how to make sauteed baby corn flavored with herbs and butter as a side dish.
  • Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, and arrange 6 ears of baby corn and 4 sprigs of thyme on top. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 minutes on low-medium heat after it starts to crackle. Remove the lid, roll the ears of corn, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Repeat once more, remove the lid and add 5 grams of butter and a pinch of salt, and coat the corns with butter.